Daily exercise is more important than ever as we all learn to cope with life in lockdown number three.

Whether it's a new priority to get out and move your body, be it because of working from home and being sat down all day or escaping the house for a moment alone, away from home schooling - exercise has become our solace. 

The benefits of being active far exceed just the physical changes your body may see. 

The emotional benefits of getting outside in the fresh air and enjoying some gentle exercise can make a huge difference to our mental health, especially for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter months. 

SAD is a form of depression that comes and goes with the season. As the sun sets and stays down, so does a person's mood.

However exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that reduce pain and increase feelings of well-being. In addition, exercise increases your metabolism, which helps to improve your energy levels.

Due to the national lockdown gyms are closed and we are only permitted to leave the house for essential shopping or once daily for exercise. 

You can exercise in a public outdoor space: 

- by yourself

- with the people you live with

- with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)

- in a childcare bubble where providing childcare

- or, when on your own, with one person from another household

You don't need to start running marathons or doing circuits, but a gentle 30-minute walk is enough to see positive changes in both your mind and body whilst adhering to lockdown rules.

Here are some wonderful walks to enjoy in and around Watford no matter your ability:

 The Ebury Way, Rickmansworth

Watford Observer:

Ebury Way - Wikimedia Commons.

This abandoned railway line between Rickmansworth and Watford is just over three miles long and opened back in 1862 before closing in 1951.

Along the route, you'll see beautiful sites of the River Colne, River Chess and River Gade as well as the Grand Union Canal.

The route

Starting in Rickmansworth, you can access the route from Skidmore Way which leads directly onto it.

Following the path you'll slowly make your way out of the town and pass fishing lakes on both sides.

As you keep going, you'll pass different habitats like open moor lands, woods, wetlands and plenty of rivers.

The walk ends in Watford as you come out onto Riverside Road.

Bricket Wood Common:

Rich in wildlife, Bricket Wood Common is a semi-natural woodland with wet lowland, ponds and streams.

Full of nature the Common has an array of wildlife including great crested newts, butterflies, heather, fungi, blue bells and Heath Spotted Orchids. 

There are a range of walks to enjoy and you can really set your own pace and distance.

A few different walks are available for download before you visit the Common.

Watford Junction to Watford North:

Watford Observer:

Just under 4km this point-to-point trail is good for all skill levels and takes around an hour and a half.

Ideal for bird watching this route takes you around residential streets for the first half of the walk and leads you through park and woodland trails for the second half. 

The second section runs alongside the River Colne through Waterfields Recreation Ground and both the Radlett Road and Knutsford playing fields.

This easy walk takes you along pavements and designated paths with a couple of gates, including a kissing gate - so be sure to take your partner if you're from the same household!

You can choose your own route or check online for a pre-made trail. 

Cassiobury Park & Grand Union Canal:

Taking approximately an hour and 10 minutes this walk explores Cassiobury Park and a section of the Grand Union Canal - if you fancy doing a bit less you can explore just one section of the walk.

Similarly, if you'd like to walk further you can ramble down a larger section of the canal.

A great amble especially at the weekend you can take this walk at your own pace and walk as far or as little as you fancy.

There are no lights along much of this route so make sure there are plenty of daylight hours when you set off on your walk. 

There is street parking at Langley Way which can be reached by the A441 however this should be avoided to stop congestion. 

Hampermill Walk: 

Watford Observer:

David Hawgood / River Colne near Watford / CC BY-SA 2.0

This 3km circular walk to Hampermill Lake takes approximately one hour, exploring Colne Valley and Ebury Way. 

It is suggested to start the walk from an area of housing called the Rookery to the south west of Watford off Eastbury Road. 

You can also join the walk via the footpath from Silk Mill Road or via the path to Bushey Cricket Club. 

The circular walk takes in four main points of interest including: 

Brightwell Farm which has a farm house and cottages for the workers which has been rebuilt as a result of fire damage.

Hamper Mill used to be an old corn mill call Hen Pool, built by Richard De Oxhey in 1920. The mill remained a corn mill until the 18th century when it became a paper mill, making high quality paper, some used for banknotes. It was damaged by fire in 1793 and is now a private dwelling. 

The lake in front of the mill and others in the area naturally filled with water following the extraction of gravel in the river valley here. Masonry and pottery were found suggesting it had been a Roman settlement.

Oxhey Hall is a grade II listed building and has been on this site since the 16th century. Once a moated site, the ground is registered as an ancient monument.

It has had a number of royal connections and is known to have been the hunting lodge for King Henry VIII.

You can download the walking trail before you set off, or visit the website from your mobile. 

Let us know how exercise has benefitted you in the comments